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Part II, focusing on the fielders.
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When we bring the discussion round to career wins by pitchers, we encounter a very serious question.

Where to set the bar?
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The first of a multi-part series this week.
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Here's an article by intrepid correspondent Callum Hughson. Imagine how much you'd like it if I had any idea how to format these things.

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During a random trip to my local library I came across a recent baseball book by Toronto Sun columnist Bob Elliott, titled The Northern Game. I checked it out and gave it a read. The main point of interest for me was the appendix. Here, Elliott asked Canadian baseball experts from all over the nation for lists of the greatest provincial and national baseball players of all-time. Taking the honours at first base was a late 1800s ballplayer named Bill Phillips. Now I canít tell you all that much about Phillips, other than he was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, that he began his career at 22 and that he played during some of the early tumultuous years of professional baseball. Like most modern Canadian baseball fans would, I scanned my brain to come up with another choice. The most logical was Justin Morneau. As we all know, Justin has had a very short major league career. But after sifting through the data, I came to the conclusion that even if Morneau retired today, he should still be considered the number one Canadian first baseman of all-time. Hereís how I came to that conclusion.

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At the close of the 2006 baseball season, there were 11 active pitchers with 200 or more career wins. With the possible exception of Roger Clemens, all are currently scheduled to return for the 2007 season.

Okay, maybe David Wells (3-5, 4.42) is done, too, but it's possible that all 11 will be in uniform next season, and joined in the "200 Club" by John Smoltz (who has 193) and Andy Pettitte (186).

What's so unusual about all this? Well ...
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I was writing about the Tigers the other day, puzzling out how this year's AL champs were assembled. Some of the players were drafted, some were signed as free agents, some were obtained in trade - just like everybody else.
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Has there ever been a bigger birthday for MLB than October 20? That's a real question, and not just because today is my dad's birthday and we did an All-October 20 team a year ago.

Consider ...

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The Little League World Series (LLWS) was held this summer, as usual, in Williamsport Pennsylvania.  The LLWS gets full coverage on ESPN and ended happily for the network with a team from Georgia winning the title.  Charles Euchnerís new book  ďLittle League, Big Dreams, the Hope, the Hype and the Glory of the greatest World Series ever playedĒ examines the LLWS from the perspective of the teams in the 2005 series, and provides an in depth look behind the scenes of the biggest show in kids baseball.

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According to the occasionally-reputable New York Daily News, Joe Torre is about to be removed, by his choice of resigning or being fired, as manager of the Yankees. This would not be the first in a series of off-season managerial changes, but would certainly be the most noteworthy so far. Reportedly, Lou Piniella would return for another go-round as manager in the Bronx.

So, if this is in fact what happens, what does that mean ...
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Letís take a look at how the Blue Jays currently stack up for 2007.
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Hi Gary,

Off the top, I want to say a couple of things. First, the timing of this letter is not designed to disrupt opening day for the NHL -- I decided not to wait a few days before writing and posting it because I think that this is a really urgent issue that needs to be dealt with right away. Second, I'm not sending this to you privately because I'm pretty certain that you'd never see it. I'm hoping that by putting it out here on the internet it draws enough attention for this matter to be dealt with immediately.

What's the issue? I went to NHL.com yesterday and I saw something that thoroughly disgusted me:

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The incomparable Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com has released the 2006 statistics.  Remarkable speed!

This link will take you to the 2006 Blue Jays statistics.  A few things that jump out at me...

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The Jays 2006 season was quite a ride.  Here are a few of the dizzying highs and the devastating lows from the perspective of pinch-hitter Joanna, who has put together her perspective on the 2006 season.

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So that was 2006, eh?
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Here's an almost-end-of-season overview of the 2006 Blue Jays season. Executive summary: it hurts more when you care more.

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